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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House has rejected a proposed $1.50-per-pack tax on cigarettes to help shore up the state’s health care system, with Republicans blaming Democrats for the bill’s failure.

After holding the vote open for more than two hours late Wednesday, the bill failed on a vote of 59-40 against the measure.

The House then adjourned until 10 p.m.

Because the bill includes a tax increase, it requires 76 votes to pass.

The 30 House Democrats have said they won’t support the tax until Republicans agree to some version of Medicaid expansion that would allow Oklahoma to tap into hundreds of millions of dollars available to states through the Affordable Care Act.

The House author of the cigarette tax indicated he plans to bring the bill up for consideration again.

Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt released the following statement in response to the standoff in the Legislature over a tobacco tax increase:
“Accepting available federal dollars for health care and rolling back an income tax cut that should not be happening in the midst of a massive budget shortfall are both reasonable and popular measures. A grand bargain is in reach if Oklahoma lawmakers are willing to show leadership: accept federal funds or suspend the tax cut as part of a deal to ensure supermajority support to increase the tobacco tax. This is the responsible path forward to prevent the closure of nursing homes and rural hospitals and other devastating cuts to critical services.”